Libya on Tuesday made its case before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to try the son of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi at home rather than at The Hague-based tribunal.
At the outset of a two-day hearing focused on where to try the late dictator's son, Libyan lawyer Ahmed al-Jehani said putting Saif al-Islam Gadhafi on trial in Libya would be a "unique opportunity for national reconciliation" in a country still emerging from last year's conflict.
The stakes could not be higher for the younger Gadhafi, who is facing charges of crimes against humanity in both Libya and at the ICC. The maximum penalty he could receive if found guilty at The Hague-based court is a life sentence. In Libya he could face death.
Lawyer Philippe Sands told the court that Libya has already amassed considerable evidence to prosecute the accused, who is implicated in some of the worst atrocities committed by the former government during last year's bloody crackdown against civilian protesters and rebels.
"It is anticipated that this evidence and further evidence that will be gathered in the ongoing investigation will be a solid basis for charging Mr. Gadhafi for all the above acts — whether through joint commission, planning, instigation, command responsibility, aiding and abetting and, in some cases, direct commission," said Sands.
But Gadhafi's court-appointed lawyers argue that he would not get a fair trial in Libya, where he is currently being held by a militia based in the western mountains.
The hearing is part of the ICC's wider investigation into human rights abuses by the Gadhafi regime during its 2011 struggle to maintain power.
The former Libyan dictator's ex-intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi, who was arrested in Mauritania in March, was recently extradited to Libya to face criminal charges.
Charges against Colonel Moammar Gadhafi were dropped after his death last October.